Saturday 21 January 2012

The feathering of Plumage

torso and headdress

the whole figure

Progress today was good. The background had several layers of colour applied and the figure was shaded in a bit more. I started stitching the headdress piece into place.

In the picture of the whole canvas on the right you will see there is a piece of textile pinned into place over the lower part of the figure and I'm presently considering whether to apply this. It will be fairly challenging to incorporate it as I'd want to integrate the colours a lot more with the headdress, so that would mean trying to bring in some of the bright pink. I also feel I'm straying a little from my theme of "Plumage" and will be giving some thought to how I can introduce in the next stages of work some features that allude to flight, feathers or wings. I am thinking of making that big area beyond the right arm into the suggestion of a wing.....

I had thought of putting a beak onto the face....but "chickened out" hahaha.... as I didn't have the confidence in my ability to bring off successfully such a surreal element in the work.

Friday 20 January 2012

will fly tomorrow!

No art happening in the last few days, I have been at work.

This is a picture of "The Dancer". A cloth figure from 2002, it measures about 58 cm in height. The body is an embellished, stitched piece of textile made by me. It is armatured with wire and stuffed and set into a wooden stand. The face is not sculpted by me and is absolutely the only doll I have made of hundreds that I didn't sculpt the face for. "The Dancer" had existed for about 4 years until I bought the face during one of my teaching trips to the USA in 2006 and attached it to the figure. The glazed stoneware face is made by American sculptor Diane Brieglieb who has been reproducing this iconic face in thousands of variations for 25 years. I have collected a dozen or so of her faces over a decade but this is the only one I have used in my art.

Tomorrow I look forward to having a couple of days to fly with Plumage...!!!

Helsinki Cathedral Oct 2011
see website: here
WOOOHOOO!!! Look at this incredible feat of needlework! This is stitch porn to be drooled over by stitcherbators the world over. More to be revealed about guerilla stitchers in future blogs....!!??? Keep your fingers poised in anticipation.....

Wednesday 18 January 2012

feathers and frisson


fragments laid onto figure

After work yesterday there was very little time to do much in the studio. I got out some of my "fragments"  and moved them around the surface for inspiration. The picture on the left shows some of the pieces pinned to the work. I really liked the piece which was put onto the head, it is the cut off end of a felted scarf I made, which is why there is fringing. The fringes could be spread round at different angles around the head, to simulate the idea of movement, one of the ideas I wanted to capture in this work. I really like the colours too - bright chartruesey green, hot pink and plum. Those colours will become the basis of the composition.

The fragments pinned to the bottom didn't give me that necessary "frisson" of excitement so they will go back  onto the pile and the headdress piece will be the one used for the colours and developing more textiles to embellish the work.

I hope to have some time this afternoon to paint the face and background colours!

Tuesday 17 January 2012

art tells a story

Cloth book cover from 2004

This is a picture of a book cover made in 2004, measuring about 27 x 19cm. Sometimes people have asked why I don't make  larger scale work. It is generally a practical consideration because I machine embroider directly into the surface of the canvas. Perhaps I should show a picture of the back of one of the completed works so the stitching can be seen! So my preferred scale to work on is seldom any bigger than 70x 1metre because of the practical consideration of getting the canvas and manouevering it effectively under the arm of the machine and the stitching foot.

Yesterday I assisted at a workshop for children with Autism. It was a high energy day! Over 20 years I have taught many workshops to people who want to learn more about making art and attended many as a student myself. There is always something to learn whether you are the teacher or student! I learned this fantastic technique and plan to make some time to experiment with it. Working on thick watercolour paper (or in my case probably on canvas) the teacher prepared about 6 colours of acrylic paint in disposable plastic bowls, thinned about 20% with acrylic thinner medium. Small puddles of paint were tipped at random over the paper and a blow dryer held over them. This caused the paint to move and spread out. More puddles of paint were tipped into this to build up many layers of paint. In some areas because the paint became so thick a really interesting crackle effect started happening. The whole surface could be covered in this way or parts of the background left showing through. The finished "art" was fantastic! 

Sunday 15 January 2012

Plumage will fly....

Abigail, newly displayed on the wall of my gallery today

The new picture - Abigail - has been completed and is now being displayed on the wall of my gallery at Upstairs Art Studio at Murrurundi from today. To the right of it are "Pages River" and "Bridget with Bright Flowers"

In my last post I said I would show and explain step by step the process of how I build up and create one of my artworks.

The theme I want to explore is "Plumage" some of the ideas this evokes are: feathers, flight, wings, fluttering, movement, flash of light, sky.... Some of what attracts to me to these ideas is simply a reaction because the last work was so still and static (Abigail) The colours will certainly be different, I usually will go to the opposite complementary colour, or monochrome after a series of coloured works.

In the picture below is the development of absolute day one of "Plumage". I ripped a piece of canvas 70 x 93cm and painted it all over in a darker than mid tone grey acrylic paint. When dry that colour was then broken up roughly with slashings of a lighter shade paint. I don't use base coats of gesso, as most artists traditionally/conventionally/practically do, because it hinders my ability to machine embroider into the surface. Because gesso is virtually a thin plaster (thick with calcium carbonate, or chalk) it tends to rip my polyester machine embroidery thread to shreds and cause constant breakages when stitching. So I have adapted to painting directly onto the cotton canvas surface without any sealer. This means the canvas is much more porous and it is necessary to build up many more layers of paint than would normally be required if the canvas was primed with gesso.

Plumage - day 1, blocking in the form

 The figure is blocked in with light and dark paint. I will probably work on the face next. To me this strongly creates an emotional mood in the work. Perhaps it is a bit like writing a have to have a strong sense of the character to create the story around.